Don't Sleep, There are Snakes Rothdas book review RSS
4.2 Stars

A very interesting summary of 30 years spent with a small Amazonian tribe. Reality consistently does better than the creations of sci-fi and fantasy authors, and reading about the Piraha was fascinating. The book covers the language and culture of the Piraha, as well the author's experiences and anecdotes from his time there. In that spirit, let me just list some of the highlights of the book:

- the absolute folly of taking your family (including your young kids and 100 lb wife) out into the middle of the rain forest
- the author's self-awareness and self-depreciation
- a neat section on how the different sounds of speech are made
- several neat sections about information theory in relation to language
- the Piraha's perfect, 200 year history of having no conversions to Christianity, despite the best efforts of missionaries
- Piraha child raising, or lack thereof
- the numerous anecdotes about the Piraha, their happiness, how they live, how they talk, and how they conceive of the world. This is one of the things I love about anthropologist's efforts, how they give the lie to the idea that there is just one "natural" way of thinking or of being human. As a complete weirdo, I say the more outlier data points we have the better! =)